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The Lost Kids of Willows

Updated: January 16, 2009, 5:13 PM ET
By Michael Weinreb
WILLOWS, Calif. -- The quarterback ran one last play against thin air, against an opponent who did not exist, and then he turned away from his teammates and dropped face-first into the grass. "Quit screwing around," someone said, and when it was clear the quarterback wasn't screwing around, the coach knelt down, felt for a pulse and attempted to resuscitate. Someone ran to fetch a pair of scissors to cut through the quarterback's jersey and shoulder pads, and everyone else stood there and waited for the quarterback to rise again, for this stubborn hallucination to dissipate and the tedium of football practice to resume.

It did not take long at all for the paramedics to arrive. In the town of Willows, nothing is very far from anything, which is why people move to this part of California in the first place: because it essentially exists on a separate plane from the rest of the state.

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